This blog continues a multi-part series that suggests ideas by which our customers could deploy and monetize video applications.  Most of these ideas (as stated) are as yet un-tested in the industry, but we believe there is enough value in the ideas to encourage our more clever readers to enable or launch a service or two which might prove successful.  This time, we talk about interacting with the video content. 

Anybody with teenagers should spend time watching their electronic habits.    The younger generation is a multi-tasking generation.   They no longer limit themselves to doing just one thing anymore.   Even if they are in front of the TV with their 'favorite' show running, they most likely have a handset, gaming device or PC nearby which they are interacting with at the same time.   The Broadcast industry has noted this and is already heading towards what they call interactive TV.   We see the same evolution in mobile broadband video.   The biggest challenge is the handset's ability to multitask.   It is our belief that the handset Operating System people will solve this problem.  It may mean a windowing mode of some sort where tasks can be swapped out quickly or overlaid in some fashion.  

Now we introduce some ideas for how these services could occur. 

URL Interaction

URL interaction is a method by which HTML content is sent to the end user in addition to the video stream.   We see this all the time on the web, where a video stream is displayed in a window and hyperlinks lie around it.   However, there is not much display space on a mobile handset screen, so somehow the service needs to overlay the HTML on the video in such a way that the user can still see the video behind the HTML, but be able to click on the HTML to interact with the link.   This could be done by either windowing applications on the handset or using Adobe® Flash® overlays.  

In this scenario, it is typical that the URL would have something to do with the content.  

The link to lead to more content, to information about the content or even to products associated with the content, (another form of directed advertising only not directed with the user so much as with the content the user is viewing). 

This latest concept is what called "Franchising."   For instance, there are kid's TV shows centered on certain actresses/singers which form franchises.   The franchise includes the show, her music, her concerts and all the merchandising associated with it.   In order to generate more merchandise sales, the content provider does advertising associated with the content.  

One way we could see this use case would be for the Mobile Operator (MO) or Web Services Operator (WSO) to inspect metadata associated with the content and alert the end user that more information exists.   A simple way to do this would be to use the media server to overlay or insert a little alert logo (Dialogic) like in the picture above.  Seeing the alert logo would alert the user to the fact that there is interesting metadata associated with this content.   The curious user can push a button from a simple applet that informs the signaling server that there is interest.   The signaling server informs the application server to forward the metadata to the customer.  The customer can then view the metadata which itself may have another URL link that could launch the user's browser and go to a web site.   For instance, maybe the franchise owner wants to market the clothes the actress is wearing at this moment.   Maybe the MO knows from the user's location information that the viewer is in a shopping mall close to a store where these clothes can be purchased.   You now have two levels of direction:  the interest in the franchise and the person's proximity to where the clothes are being sold.  


SMS interaction

SMS interaction is very similar to URL interaction but overlays an SMS viewing screen or chat window with the video content, such as is seen in this picture:

The concept here is that people can watch video in a community fashion, sending text messages to each other, or in a recent innovation, having the service be the recipient of the text message which then gets displayed in a multi-cast chat window which is overlaid on top of the video stream.   In this way, people can use SMS as the chat mechanism while sharing or simultaneously viewing content.

This particular scenario shows the community SMS chat session overlaid upon the video, allowing people to chat while watching the video.

The concept of these interaction techniques is to generate more transactions for the MO, WSO or franchise owner, thus leading to additional sales or minutes which generate revenue above and beyond the normal charges incurred for viewing such content.  We could easily see the SMS interaction becoming almost viral when it comes to certain user generated content, especially if the service posted the SMS transactions as they occurred.  It would almost be like watching twitter, with people viewing the SMS comments being made by other watchers.